Josh Davis carried the Weber State University football team with 225 yards and reached 1000 yards Saturday night in the Beehive Bowl at the Eccles Coliseum. The Wildcats finished a “gritty” game with a 31–18 victory, entering the last week of the regular season.
“It was a gritty game,” head coach Jay Hill said. “We gotta give SUU credit. They played as hard as they have all year, making plays on offense and defense that helped keep them in it.”
Although SUU entered the matchup at 1-8, their offense came out firing with a 45 yard reception, setting them up perfectly to get points on their opening drive. After two holding calls and three plays later, SUU was punting to the Wildcats.
Weber State marched down the field on their first dive with a 13 play and 89 yards touchdown drive, capped off by a 14 yard reception from senior fullback Brady May. Sophomore Jake Constantine finished with 62 yards passing.
“There were times when the offense looked very sharp,” Hill said. “Then there were other times where it looked like we were just trying to hold on.”
After both teams went three and out on their next possessions, SUU set themselves up in the red zone after a 56 yard pass and later converted on a four yard run.
Sophomore SUU kicker Manny Berz missed the tying PAT wide right and the score went into the second quarter at 7–6.
On the third play of the second quarter, Davis broke free, untouched, on a long 44 yard run touchdown giving the Wildcats a 14–6 lead.
Before the WSU section on the east side of stadium could even sit back down, SUU returned a 100 yard kickoff return but failed the two point conversion to tie things up.
WSU kept the start of a shootout going scoring on a 5 play, 75 yard scoring drive capped off by sophomore running back Clay Moss’s four yard touchdown run.
The Wildcats were looking to keep their scoring ways going, but Constantine was intercepted deep down the field, giving the Thunderbirds life. However, senior Jordan Preator and the Wildcat defense had other ideas, forcing a three and out and giving the ball back to the ’Cat offense.
With three seconds remaining in the half, WSU got the ball into field goal range. After a long debate from the Big Sky referees, sophomore kicker Trey Tuttle lined up for a 45 yard field goal but missed it wide left, going into halftime at 21–12.
Weber State held the Thunderbirds to just six yards, rushing in the first half and just 135 yards of total offense.
“We wanted to take advantage with our athletes,” Constantine said. “They (SUU) did a great job of scouting us.”
As the temperatures dropped in Cedar City, Weber State’s offense drove down the field on a 10 play, 71 yard drive. Davis finished off the banged up T-Birds defense with an easy two yard touchdown, which gave the Wildcats a 28–12 lead midway through the third quarter.
“(Davis) is probably one of the toughest kids I’ve ever played with,” Constantine said. “He runs hard and puts his shoulder down on defenders that outweigh him. He’ll go the extra mile to get just one yard.”
SUU wasn’t going to let the Wildcats get an easy win when they responded with a scoring drive of their own after converting on a fourth down and one on their side of the 50. SUU again failed their two point conversion, and WSU still held a 10 point lead 28–18.
Weber State’s offense couldn’t find the rhythm that they had in the first half, but junior punter Doug Lloyd helped the Wildcat defense by pinning the SUU offense inside their 10 yard line at the beginning of the fourth.
The Thunderbirds began to drive the ball down the field in hopes of making it a one-possession ballgame. Freshman defensive end McKade Mitton finished off the SUU drive with a fourth down sack and turned the ball over on downs.
Tuttle and the Wildcats capitalized on the great field position with a 35 yard field goal and increased the lead 31–18.
Weber State stalled the T-Birds on their next driving with another turn over on downs.
Davis continued his dominance in the rushing attack, finishing with 225 yards and worked his way to over 1000 yards on the season. Davis became just the 10th player in Wildcat history to reach the 1000 yard club and is only the second freshman to do so.
“All the credit goes to the line,” Davis said. “My fullbacks, wide receivers and coaches, I’m just running the ball and reading it. Without them blocking, I wouldn’t have any of it.”
The Wildcats closed the game out after SUU committed a illegal substitution penalty, giving WSU a first down. WSU ran out the remainder of the clock and held on for a 31–18 victory.
“In this league you find ways to win,” Hill said. “If we continue to do that each game we are going to be okay.”
Weber State improved to 8-2 and 6-1 in conference play. They are currently tied with Eastern Washington and UC Davis for first place in the Big Sky Conference. The ’Cats will travel north to Idaho State Saturday to find out who they will play in the playoffs next Sunday on the FCS Selection Show.